Gotham Review (English)

26. december 2014 at 20:25 | Akai |  Seriálové, anime a komixové recenze
I know, I know, I know - who's gonna read this in English, especially if there is (hopefully) a Czech version coming, right? But as it feels somewhat more natural to me to write in English (yes, I'm definitely a weirdo) and I had troubles writing in Czech, I decided to create this one first and then translate it or maybe just have it written down so that I could base the other article on it.
So if out there is anyone who's such an English freak like me, I hope you like this one. And sorry for all the mistakes, I'm sure there's plenty, but hopefully it still makes sense... Well, it probably doesn't, but whatever.

As a friend of the beloved author of this site, I agreed to introduce, review and praise one of the many new TV series, Gotham. Based on the DC comics' Batman, the show takes us back in time to witness the beginnings of the GCPD detective James Gordon, Batman himself and many of his future foes.

1 season, 10/22 episodes, FOX, 2014 - ?

Cast: Ben McKenzie (James Gordon), Donal Logue (Harvey Bullock), Robin Lord Taylor (Oswald Cobblepot), David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne), Sean Pertwee (Alfred Pennyworth), Jada Pinkett Smith (Fish Mooney), Camren Bicondova (Selina Kyle), Cory Michael Smith (Edward Nygma), Erin Richards (Barbara Kean), John Doman (Carmine Falcone)...

Plot summary:
Ex-soldier Jim Gordon joins Gotham's police forces to fight crime in his city. It's an uneasy task to accomplish with Gotham City controlled by mafia bosses, the government and the police department corrupt to the core and Gordon being one of the last honest cops in town.

|SPOILERS from The Pilot episode below|
Thomas and Martha Wayne have been murdered in a street robbery and the case goes to Jim Gordon and his new partner, experienced GCPD detective Harvey Bullock. As the Waynes were well-known and beloved Gotham's citizens, finding the killer quickly is required.
When questioning street criminals appears to lead nowhere, the detectives go to meet with Fish Mooney, one of Gotham's minor mob leaders answering to Don Falcone, the most powerful mafia boss in town. She points them to Mario Pepper, who, according to her source, has Martha Wayne's pearls in his possesion.
Gordon and Bullock pay him a visit, but Pepper tries to escape and is shot dead by Bullock after he attacks Gordon. When the pearls are found in his flat, the case seems to be solved and both detectives become city's heroes.
In spite of all the apparent evidence, Mario Pepper did not kill the Waynes. One of Mooney's employees, Oswald Cobblepot, informs detectives Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen of Gotham's major crime unit, that Fish Mooney helped GCPD to frame Pepper after Gordon and Bullock's visit. As soon as Gordon finds out about it, he goes to Mooney's and demands to know the truth. He underestimates her and ends up hanging upside down in a butchery (Fish has her ways), close to getting killed. Bullock shows a soft spot for Jim and tries to reason with Fish to let him go this time. Unfortunatelly he manages to threaten her in the process and not long after he is hanging next to his partner.
In the meanwhile Fish Mooney figures out who the snitch is. Cobblepot tries to lie his way out of the trouble, but that cannot help him as he was the only one to see her with Martha Wayne's pearls. Infuriated Mooney then beats him up with a chair, breaking his leg and giving him his distinguished penguin-like walk, showing us early steps of his transformation into Batman's future iconic villain, The Penguin.
Bullock and Gordon are saved by Don Carmine Falcone himself, who doesn't like Mooney making such big steps like killing policemen without his permission.
Gordon is then ordered by Falcone to kill Cobblepot and show where his loyalties lie. In case he'd refuse, Bullock is supposed to take both of them out. Jim walks Oswald to the end of a pier but then warns him never to return to Gotham and shoots to the water, making it look like the job has been done.
Gordon's consciousness doesn't allow him to leave the Waynes' murder unsolved and he promises their son, Bruce, to find whoever killed his parents.
|End of the spoilers|



I have to admit that I know very little of the Batman comics, having only seen Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, but I dare say that not knowing those characters doesn't affect the viewing experience very much. I enjoyed the show very much and I can highly recommend it to you, if you like crime, mystery or the superhero genre.
I would say Gotham is quite similar to another TV show based on DC comics, The CW's Arrow. There is a certain darkness in both of them and if you enjoyed Arrow, Gotham could definitely be your cup of tea, only with a slightly different flavour and an apparent lack of a vigilante, although that can hardly do any harm.
Gotham introduces all different sorts of characters, from honest Gordon, through morally grey Bullock, to Oswald Cobblepot with doubtful motives. The number of characters enables us to see many different aspects of the story - James Gordon's effort to stay clean in a dirty world, yet pure soul of young Bruce Wayne, shaken by the death of his parents, at first not quite able to understand the corruptness of Gotham, Oswald's rise to power through deception and killings, who still manages to make you feel for him and understand him in some way.

I'd like to highlight some of the cast's performance as it is crucial for the show's success. Ben McKenzie in the leading role of detective Gordon is believable and solid, although McKenzie might be a bit too old for the part as they make some references to his age that would seem more fitting to a much younger man. Donal Logue excells as Harvey Bullock, he provides a lighter counterpart to often so serious Gordon, making Bullock quite a likeable character and succesfully shows us both sides of the detective. Only 13-year-old David Mazouz also deserves praise for his portrayal of Bruce Wayne. There is some lovely chemistry between him and Camren Bicondova, who plays young Selina Kyle.
What I think sometimes feels a bit affected is Jada Pinkett Smith's performance as the mob leader Fish Mooney, but when you get used to it, her style of acting really fits the character. From the rest of the cast I'd like to mention Sean Pertwee as Bruce Wayne's loveable butler Alfred, John Doman in the role of mafia boss Carmine Falcone and Cory Michael Smith's performance as Edward Nygma, who can make you feel approriately uneasy at the right moments.
And then there's Robin Lord Taylor, portraying my personal favourite, Oswald Cobblepot. I'm sure that if it wasn't for him, the Penguin might be just a guy who gets maybe a bit too much screentime, but to quote the headlines in the US: He was born to play the Penguin. (Although the nose is fake and he is a natural blonde.)
Robin will simply make you love Oswald Cobblepot in every way. Or he will make you love to hate him, because, to be honest, the Penguin is not exactly a shining example of a loveable character. I'm unable to determine what it is that makes Taylor so perfect for the role and the combination of him and Cobblepot such a wonderful character, so I'm afraid you'll have to find it yourself.

Each of ten so far released episodes provides us with a new case (usually murder) that is solved before the credits roll with something to add to the main storylines - the Waynes' murder case, Penguin's rise to power and struggle for the rule over Gotham between the mob bosses, Gordon fighting crime on a bigger scale etc. That gives us a feeling of a continous story rather than a bunch of stand-alone episodes and allows us to see the bigger picture. This is where it differs from already mentioned Arrow, that usually follows only Oliver's story and has somewhat less touches to the main story arc.
The pilot served as a nice introduction of the characters and the world, although I think it's good to know something about Batman's universe before watching Gotham. However, I believe that anyone interested in such a show has the idea of how the world works already.
If I were to nitpick, I'd say that the season 1's mid-finale, Lovecraft (episode 10), lacked the entire climax of a mid-season finale. Don't be mistaken, it was a wonderful episode but it was number 7, The Penguin's Umbrella, that felt more like a possible finale to the first part, even though I think it's just because I had been spoilt by Arrow's The Climb, The Walking Dead's Coda or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.'s What They Become that had been packed with shocking events and departures. When I think of it again, Lovecraft was a really solid mid-finale with only a tiny bit less shocking resolution than it could have had. Nonetheless it served its purpose and made me excited for the second part of season 1.
There is one thing that might hurt the series a little and that is that it's an origin story for most of the characters - whatever happens to them, you know where they end up one day, which certainly isn't dead in some ditch, but again, the story can and does feel fresh and carries a lot of surprises without the need for killing off characters - that's just something we got used to from Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.
Conclusion? Gotham is a show with a great potential if it keeps its current quality and I can highly recommend it to anyone who's interested in this kind of genre - it is definitely worth watching.

Rating: 80 %


James Gordon
The main guy of the show, the one whose name you'll probably remember - and if not, calling him detective 'round head' might serve well too. Gordon is an honest man although not too much to annoy you as the viewer. He's sometimes a little dull, but you can get used to him after a couple of episodes and there are even moments when you can't help yourself but like him. He tries to rid the city of dirty officials, nonetheless so far it seems he'll have to use a more powerful detergent to achieve the goal.

Harvey BullockBullock is a slightly more interesting character than Gordon, being something like a grey-ish knight rather than having easily recognisable features making him a villain or a hero. It is intriguing to watch Jim slowly influence Harvey and somewhat unintentionally change him into a better man than he is when the two of them first meet. AKA detective 'square head'.

Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin
Oswald Cobblepot is clever and ambitious and that is a deadly combination for his enemies. He started off as a guy to hold Fish Mooney's umbrella and since that moment he's been gaining more and more power and influence, that leads up to him becoming one of Batman's famous villains, the Penguin.

Bruce WayneWhen the Waynes are murdered in that dark alley, Gotham's Dark Knight is born. Little Bruce is only a sweet kid so far, but you know he is destined to become the infamous vigilante.

Alfred PennyworthThe Wayne's butler takes care of Bruce after his parents' deaths and you can totally see how Alfred's parenting already helps Bruce to grow into Batman one day.

Fish MooneyOne of Gotham's minor mob leaders, Fish Mooney wants to become even more powerful than she already is and wishes to overthrow Gotham's number one, Don Falcone.

Selina Kyle/Cat
Cat is a cunning young thief living on the street who accidentally witnesses the Waynes' murder.

Edward NygmaA GCPD forenzic scientist obsessed with riddles. Nygma is to become the Riddler, another famous villain, who uses riddles in his crimes.


3 people judged this article.


1 Yaraki Yaraki | Web | 27. december 2014 at 12:28 | React

Just saw the last episode and I can't help myself but wondering about rising the rating on 87% :D

2 Esther Esther | Email | 27. december 2014 at 12:31 | React

Sounds like a really good show :) when I finally catch up with Arrow I will definitely check out this one :)

3 Akai Akai | 27. december 2014 at 12:37 | React

Gonna do it immediately, wasn't sure if I wouldn't be too soft ;) when could we meet?

4 Akai Akai | 27. december 2014 at 12:38 | React

[2]: let me know how you like it when you start with it :D and how you like the penguin :)

5 Yaraki Yaraki | Web | 27. december 2014 at 12:44 | React

Hi Esther btw :D nice to meet you at last :)

6 Allaine Allaine | 27. december 2014 at 13:08 | React

Ah, makes me wanna watch it :-D though I don't have any free time left :-(
I love your writing style by the way, it is fresh and dynamic, very pleasant to read :-)
Any way...looks like I'll have to watch it, huh? :-D my series supplier :-D

7 Akai Akai | 27. december 2014 at 13:11 | React

[6]: thank you so much, makes me feel really flattered :D
And Gotham is really worth it, and it has only 10 episodes so far ;)

8 Yaraki Yaraki | Web | 27. december 2014 at 13:46 | React

Wow, such rising fanbase - one day, we'll conquer the world (and turn all men in Penguin) :D Which reminds of the ALP - Akai, you should totally make an english version of it :P

9 Akai Akai | 27. december 2014 at 14:18 | React

[8]: Me? Like me translating it? I... I mean, it would be such an honor, I just... *speechless*

10 Yaraki Yaraki | Web | 27. december 2014 at 15:36 | React

[9]: A take it as "yes" :D

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